The Beginning: Uranus, Cronus, Zeus


August 31, 2009


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CC 303 Intro to Classical Mythology - Fall 2009 - Prof. Lawrence Kim
Department of Classics, University of Texas at Austin


Names to Remember

Cyclopes, Kronos/Saturn, Aphrodite/Venus, Cyprus, Furies, Hesiod, Chaos
Gaia/Gaea, Ouranos/Uranus, Titans, Rhea, Tartarus, Typhon, Zeus/Jupiter

Lecture Outline 


Two Kinds of Cosmogony (= Birth of the Universe)

  1. Architectural (created by someone)
    • Genesis and Ovid: A god creates, designs and orders the world
  2. Automatic (spontaneously generated (no creator))
    • Hesiod's Theogony (= Birth of the Gods): Chaos, Gaea, etc. just come into existence
The Beginnings according to Hesiod
  1. The First Elements
    1. Chaos = Not Disorder, but Space or Void
    2. Gaea = Earth
      • Gives birth to Uranus = Sky, the Heavens
    3. Tartarus = the underworld
    4. Eros = Love, the pro-creative force
  2. Gaea and Uranus
    1. Birth of Titans, Cyclopes, Hundred-Handers
    2. Children buried within Gaea, unable to be born
  3. Cronus and the Castration of Uranus
    1. Separation of Earth and Sky
    2. Birth of Aphrodite from foam of discarded genitals (Cyprus)
    3. Birth of Furies (Erinyes) and Giants from blood
  4. Cronus and Rhea
    1. New World Order
    2. Cronus imprisons Cyclopes and Hundred-Handers
    3. Cronus swallows his five children as they are born
  5. The Rise of Zeus
    1. Zeus born secretly (Crete)
    2. Cronus swallows stone instead
    3. Cronus vomits up Zeus' siblings
  6. Zeus vs. Cronus and Titans
    1. Zeus enlists Cyclopes (thunderbolt) and Hundred-Handers
    2. Titans punished (imprisoned in Tartarus)
  7. Zeus vs. Typhon (Typhoeus)
    1. Born of Gaea, monstrous, enormous, snaky
    2. Final break with Gaea, nature deities
    3. Beginning of ordered universe


Images to Recognize

Note: Images marked with an asterisk (*): you are responsible for the artist's last NAME (in boldface) as well as recognizing the myth depicted.